‘FanTasia Festival’- Day One Report

The eighth annual FanTasia Festival officially kicked off into high gear today and our good buddy Dominic F. Marceau was there to tell us about it. Inside you’ll find his report from day one of the festival of all festivals…
DAY ONE – July 8th 2004
By: Dominic F. Marceau

I was at home, getting comfortable, when the phone rang. On the other end was a friend of mine who shall remain nameless. “Dude! There’s a press party tonight at the Concordia campus bar! It’s going to be a madhouse! You soooooo have to come!” Being that I’m always in the mood to shake my groove thang, I showered up, shaved (it was a special occasion after all…), and got all nice and “purty” for this night that was setting up to be a memorable one. As I drove to pick my friend up, I noticed the searchlights that were scanning Montreal’s night sky. I was pumped. This is after all the opening night of this fine festival! We eventually made our way to Concordia University. The banner was finally in place and looked pretty snazzy…

I had decided to bypass the opening day’s schedule as I have two lined up tomorrow. Besides, the only film of interest, in my book, was “Ju-on: The Grudge“. It will be playing once more and I will definitely be there. (Meanwhile, you can read Lyle’s fine review here.) But I sure was in the mood to party like it was 1985! Alas, when we walked into “Reggie’s”, maybe ten people were there. You know that old joke that if the stools outnumber the patrons, it’s kinda slow? Well, it sure was. Ok, Ok. Fine. “Ju-on” was still playing. Fine. Around midnight, the masses should pour in like salmon swimming upstream. Well, midnight finally hit and a few messed up looking folks stumbled in, jabbering on how this film was unlike no other. Ok. I’m torn between feeling bummed for sitting here waiting to be entertained, and desperately wanting to see this film. That got me thinking. As I chain-smoked and chugged some fine Belle Gueule beer, I started to seriously think. “Ju-on” sure looks awesome, but personally, which (let’s say…) five films am I the most looking forward to? After a steady diet of Pixies and The Ramones, I decided to call it a night because I had some serious thinking to do. On my way to my car, I decided to cut through the lobby and look over some of the posters for inspiration…

I drove home and sat down in front in front of my computer. This is what I eventually came up with:

5. Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning. The first film was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise dead subgenre. And Katharine Isabelle makes me believe in God! The second film surprised the hell out of me. Smart, well written, and especially well played. So, of course I’m extremely excited about the third film!

4. Thundercrack! Horror AND porn! ‘Nuff said. “You put your chocolate in my peanut butter!”

3. Freak Out! (review) (Another exclamation point!) I’ve been hearing about this little British film for a while now. These guys did everything themselves and I admire them for it. D.I.Y. is more than an old Peter Gabriel song: it’s a way of life for those guys. I can’t wait to see if this flick lives up to the hype!

2. Gozu. Takashi Miike has yet to disappoint me. Even the endless “Dead or Alive” rocks because of its absolutely insane climax. With every new film, this director comes up with something fresh, something new. And on top of that, he’s probably the most prolific director since Jess Franco. He is a directing machine, whipping out film after film. Last year, he blew the FanTasia crowd right through the back of the cinema with “Ichi the killer”, so expectations are rather high. But I wouldn’t be worried if I were you: Miike always delivers!

1. Haute (High) Tension (review). There has been a resurgence in French cinema these past five years or so. From “Irreversible” to “Dobermann” to “Nid de Guêpes” to “Requiem”, French films are brutal and take no prisoners. They’re right in your face, showing you everything you thought you couldn’t (or shouldn’t) see in a movie theatre. Gone are the days of little French films populated with bumbling waiters, spoiled (and underfed) tarts, and large goofy men. Nowadays, you can smell the gunpowder and you can hear the spines break. They provoke a reaction. Good or bad, you react to them. And if there is a film this year that will make you react, it is certainly this one. I’m not going to try to convince you to go see it. It’s as if the “Champs Élysés” had transformed into 42nd street, circa 1979. That’s the best way I can put it. It’s nasty, it’s sleazy, and it’s going to make you want to take a shower afterwards. And the absolutely gruesome FX work featured in this gem is the work of FX Maestro Gianetto De Rossi! That should convince some of you. For the rest of you, take my word for it. You’ll thank me… or curse me out for years to come. If that’s the case, well, you suck anyway…

Well, that’s all for today. I have to get some sleep. The madness that is the FanTasia film festival starts tomorrow for ol’ junior here. And besides, my top two films are screening tomorrow! What a way to kick things off! You can read all about it in tomorrow’s report… if I make it out of there alive…

Cut to credits.

Source: Dominic F. Marceau, FanTasia Festival